...is all I have to blog today. Our family is still in the midst of a very difficult storm right now, and we are surrounded by friends who we love who are dealing with circumstances much more difficult and confusing than ours. Please join us as we pray for them.
We are praying so hard for our friend Rachel, her fiancee, and her family (our pastor's family) and thankful for their honesty, faith, and love during this time. If you will, please pray for Rachel's healing and wisdom for all of them. (You can click here to get updates and know how to specifically pray).
Many people we love (as I am sure is the case with you) seem to be fighting battles in several different areas of their lives, on multiple fronts. (We have felt that way for a couple of years now, too). I never dare to spew out short, "churchy", bumper sticker sayings to those who are suffering. Such words do not make the pain go away or bring peace, but often leave someone with a sense of guilt that they are struggling.
What I know is that we cry out in our weakness to a God who can bring peace and love in the midst of pain and suffering and that we are not home yet. As followers of Jesus Christ, we have been told we will have trouble in this world. But that doesn't make it easy and it doesn't make it less painful when we do face them. I know that we can be grateful because the One who has overcome walks with us and with those we love through these battles. He does make beautiful things for His glory out of our sorrow and brokenness, but the road getting there can be longer and harder than we ever dreamed. So, we pray and struggle, we cry and rejoice, we hurt and we fight only through the power of Jesus and the life we have in Him. And we learn to love those who are hurting, we learn to "see" other people and serve them, we learn that we are on this planet together and none of us is immune from the effects of sin and brokenness here.
"The LORD is close to the brokenhearted and saves those who are crushed in spirit." Psalm 34:18
"Whoever dwells in the shelter of the Most High will rest in the shadow of the Almighty. I will say of the LORD, “He is my refuge and my fortress, my God, in whom I trust.” Psalm 91:1-2
"Consider it pure joy, my brothers and sisters, whenever you face trials of many kinds, because you know that the testing of your faith produces perseverance. Let perseverance finish its work so that you may be mature and complete, not lacking anything. If any of you lacks wisdom, you should ask God, who gives generously to all without finding fault, and it will be given to you. But when you ask, you must believe and not doubt, because the one who doubts is like a wave of the sea, blown and tossed by the wind. That person should not expect to receive anything from the Lord. Such a person is double-minded and unstable in all they do. Believers in humble circumstances ought to take pride in their high position. But the rich should take pride in their humiliation—since they will pass away like a wild flower. For the sun rises with scorching heat and withers the plant; its blossom falls and its beauty is destroyed. In the same way, the rich will fade away even while they go about their business. Blessed is the one who perseveres under trial because, having stood the test, that person will receive the crown of life that the Lord has promised to those who love him." James 1:2-12
**Disclaimer: There are pastors, writers, philosphers, and theologians from the past and present, who have written entire books, papers, sermon series, essays, and more on what scripture says about suffering, Christ, the cross, and the Church. I am not attempting to even scratch the surface of this topic, but just sharing from my own experience. Secret Church at The Church at Brook Hills this past Good Friday (I did not attend) was entitled "The Cross and Suffering" and the study guides (both with blanks and filled) are available for download here if you want to study this in great detail. The study guide is an excellent and scripture rich resource on this topic. I am planning to begin studying it next week. The video and audio for the session is not available yet, but will be in the coming weeks and I will post a link when it is.
Loving and Learning,
- I love Jesus Christ, am a seeker of beauty, and am a grateful child of God who would be lost and hopeless were it not for His grace. I am learning to walk in love, see interruptions as divine appointments, and value people and relationships above agendas and results. I pray my life is grace-filled, and brings joy and encouragement to everyone I know and meet. We are a family of 6, built by God through love, birth, and adoption, living in the beauty and the struggle that accompanies parenting kids from hard places. Got questions? Email me at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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